Head to Head: Woodford Reserve vs. Woodford Reserve Double Oak

WR: Woodford ReserveWR vs WRDO

WRDO: Woodford Reserve Double Oak

Maker: Brown-Forman, Louisville, Kentucky, USA


WR: Standard Recipe bourbon

WRDO: Bourbon finished in a toasted then lightly charred oak barrel

Age: NAS

Proof: 90.4 (45.2% ABV)

Michigan Minimum Price (750 ml)

WR: $36

WRDO: $60 (purchased for $50)


WR: Copper with thin legs.

WRDO: Slightly darker with pronounced necklacing.


WR: Alcohol, oak, dried oregano, homemade caramels.

WRDO: Leather, oak, black walnut, alcohol.

On the palate

WR: Full bodied and sweet. Burn, brown sugar, a touch of cayenne and not much else.

WRDO: Medium bodied and tannic. Alcohol, brown sugar, oak.


WR: Sweet and slightly oaky with some candy. Then lots of burn.

WRDO: Very oaky. Black walnut, fresh oak, fades into alcohol and then away fairly quickly.

Parting words: Woodford Reserve is a popular whipping boy for bourbon enthusiasts. The knocks on it are that it’s young, overpriced, underpowered and its success is all marketing and packaging and no substance. Knocks on the Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection, a series of experimental annual releases have been similar but even more harsh.

It’s hard to argue with those points. Woodford is expensive for an NAS of 90 proof with little in the way of distinctive tastes or aromas. Woodford Double Oak, a rebarreled version of Woodford with a strong resemblance to the Seasoned Oak Master’s Collection release, adds some needed oak, but not much in the way of depth, unfortunately.

Both fare well in manhattans, but I don’t recall trying them in any other cocktails.

When the Double Oak was released, it was a marginal buy at $50 but $60 is an absurd price for what this is. If it sold for $40-$50 it would be worth a full recommendation, but as it is it is mildly recommended. Standard Woodford was overpriced when it first came out, but as bourbon prices have risen around it, it doesn’t seem so bad. Still, it is dull and its sister brand Old Forester is a much better buy and available at 100 proof. Woodford Reserve is also mildly recommended.

Angel’s Envy Rye

Maker: Angel’s Envy, Louisville, Kentucky, USAAE Rye

Distiller: Likely MGPI, Lawrenceburg, Indiana, USA

Style: High rye rye, finished in Caribbean rum casks.

Age: NAS

Batch: 1C

Proof: 100 (50% ABV)

Thanks to Oscar for help in obtaining this bottle and Amy for splitting it with me.

Appearance: Pale copper

Nose: Butter rum, carrot cake, almond brittle.

On the palate: Medium bodied, sweet and spicy. Fruitcake (the good, homemade kind), crystallized ginger, allspice, nutmeg, clove, mace, molasses.

Finish: More spice cake with a good bit of alcoholic burn. Clears out the sinuses and the sweetness lingers on the tongue and lips.

Parting words: This is another special release from this year that I have delayed reviewing in typical Sipology style. When it was announced that Angel’s Envy was releasing a rye, I was skeptical. When I heard the price, I was even more skeptical. When I tasted it, I was no longer skeptical.

This is a whiskey unlike any I have ever had and in a very good way. The rum flavors are very up front and they meld in an effortless way with the spice of the high-rye recipe rye to create a whiskey that is like drinking a 100 proof spice cake. It’s just an amazing product, albeit a very expensive one. It sold for $70 or more when it was to be found but it’s worth every penny and then some. There may be a few on shelves still, so if you see one, buy it. This is an amazing whiskey. Highly recommended.

Woodward Limited Whiskey

Maker: Valentine Distilling, Ferndale, Michigan.Woodward Ltd

Style: Maple flavored bourbon

Age: NAS (about 4 y/o)

Proof: 88

Appearance: Dark copper with long thin legs.

Nose: Alcohol, maple wood, leather.

On the palate: Sweet but not cloying. Maple syrup (the real stuff), caramel, wood, alcohol.

Finish: Pleasant and drying. Touches of maple linger on as the wood (mostly maple) takes hold and then gently fades away.

Parting words: I’ve been sitting on this review for a while now because of the video reviews but also because I had a lot of questions about Valentine’s operation. Since it’s only a few miles from Sipology Blog HQ, I decided to check the place out for myself before finishing my review. I’m glad I did.

It is distilled and aged in Ferndale in a small building that also serves as tasting room and a cocktail bar. They also make a vodka, an elderflower flavored vodka, Liberator Gin, and a barrel-aged version of Liberator Gin (review coming soon). We also had a sample of their bourbon (presumably with the same mashbill as Woodward Limited) which they sell right out of the barrel at barrel proof from behind the bar. It comes it at 114° and is quite good for its age. The bartender said they also sell it by the barrel which prompted several questions from my friend and me about distribution and the three tier system, none of which the bartender was capable of answering. So if you would like the try the bourbon, I would suggest stopping by the distillery yourself.

At any rate, Woodward Limited Whiskey (named after Woodward Avenue, the historic Michigan highway that runs from downtown Detroit through Ferndale and Royal Oak and on to Pontiac) is a winner. The maple flavoring (syrup according to our bartender) doesn’t overwhelm, but it balances out the youthful edges of the whiskey nicely creating a pleasant after supper sipping whiskey. Where it excels is in cocktails. It makes a very good Manhattan and fantastic Old Fashioneds and Boulevardiers. I’m sure it would work very well in other cocktails as well. As for the price, it’s reasonable for a microdistilled whiskey at just under $40. Woodward Limited Whiskey is recommended.

Head to Head: Spring Mill Bourbon vs. Beer Barrel Bourbon

A. Spring MillSpringMillbeer-barrel-bourbon

B. Beer Barrel


A. Heartland, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

B. New Holland, Holland, Michigan, USA

Distiller: MGPI, Lawrenceburg, Indiana, USA

Age: NAS


A. 90 (45% ABV)

B. 80 (40% ABV)


A. Rebarreled in new charred oak barrels

B. Finished in barrels used to finish beer in


A. Light copper

B. Burnt orange


A. Wood shavings, alcohol, chocolate-covered caramels, fennel, leather

B. Dried cherries, roasted malt, corn chips, alcohol

On the palate

A. Sweet and hot. Medium bodied. Brown sugar, sweet tea, vanilla

B. Full bodied. Licorice, stone fruit.


A. Hot and long lasting with a bit of candy behind the burn.

B. Mellow and fruity. Grape soda, alcohol. Fades quickly.


A. Excels in a Manhattan and does well in an old fashioned. Gets a little lost in cola.

B. Adds an interesting fruitiness to the Manhattan, does the same in an old fashioned. Downright tasty in ginger ale.

Parting words

Both of these bourbons are examples of small producers selling bourbon sourced from MGPI, Indiana but putting their own stamp on it. Both are successful in creating something different and probably superior to what they started with. As for Beer Barrel Bourbon (B), the fruity aspects of the stout that previously occupied the barrel come through the most, although a little of the roasted malt character also comes through.  It is a successful experiment but I don’t know if I’d buy another bottle. Mildly recommended.

Spring Mill (A) has more of a classic bourbon flavor. Rebarreling the often lackluster MGPI bourbon has added needed depth and sophistication. One of the proprietors of Heartland was not forthcoming about the nature of the second barrel (char level, size) when I communicated with him on social media, but I suspect it is a slightly smaller barrel with a lighter char, maybe 2 or 3. Whatever the case, it worked very well. The ceramic bottle adds interest (although I’m not quite sure how to recycle it) and the fact that the bottle shares the name of a street on the North Side of Indianapolis near where I grew up is a sentimental bonus for me. Spring Mill is recommended. Looking forward to some of the new barrel strength version of this stuff soon!

Review: Maker’s 46

Maker: Maker’s Mark, Loretto, Kentucky (Beam Global)

Style: Wheated Bourbon (infused with toasted French oak)

Age: NAS

Proof: 94 (47% ABV)

Appearance: copper with a pearl necklace of some significance, like on Antiques Roadshow.

Nose: Wood and char, quality toasted wheat bread.

On the Palate: more toast and wood flavors morphing into spice: ginger, nutmeg, allspice and that quintessential wheater flavor:
vanilla. Some sweet marshmallow flavors as well.

Finish: Moderately hot and distinctively drier than the standard Maker’s.

Parting words: I first tasted this at the 2010 Spring Sampler in Bardstown. I liked it then and I like it now. the differences from the standard Maker’s are easy to pick up on. It has a very nice woodiness, but in a different way than old wheaters like the Pappy Van Winkles or Very Special Old Fitzgerald. It is more perfumed than tannic. I find it very pleasant. No Maker’s bourbon is going to be a life-changing experience, but 46 works well as an affordable dessert sipper.